Easter: Not just another long weekend

by Ore Fakorede

Fireworks, cake, chicken and carols. All over the world, Christmas has always been the holiday that no one wants to miss out on. Distant relatives show up at your doorsteps bearing gifts, old friends gather to reminisce, and everyone generally looks forward to the beginning of a new year. Here in Nigeria, the Christmas and New Year festivities have all but reduced Easter to a mere three-day public holiday that keeps moving around the calendar. Perhaps this is because it traditionally falls on a weekend, being the anniversary of Jesus’ death (on a Friday), burial (on a Saturday) and resurrection (on a Sunday). However, Easter has always lacked the glitz and glamour of Christmas, with most people preferring to brood in their homes rather than go out to have raucous fun.

With the dichotomous nature of the events it brings to remembrance, Easter is definitely a two-sided holiday. On one hand, it explores such sombre themes as pain, sorrow, sacrifice and grief while on the other, it is defined by glory, rebirth and hope. The principal character in the Easter story is Jesus Christ, the life-force of the Christian faith. A man long despised by the authorities of that day in Israel for his apparent disregard for Judaism and the following which he had acquired, Christ was finally arrested by the Jewish rulers (aided by Judas) in the garden of Gethsemane. Easter is centred on Jesus’ journey from Gethsemane to the symbolic Calvary where he was crucified like a common criminal. The pit-stops along the way at the palace of Joseph Caiaphas, the high priest and at the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor, are also crucial to the story. But all of that is just history. Why did Jesus die?

When man sinned by eaten the forbidden fruit in Eden, he fell from his lofty, god-like place. God was forced to create a go-between to restore the relationship between Himself and fallen man in order that the prime work of His hands would not live and die like a beast. By the shedding of the blood of a goat or lamb, mankind could reach God, led to Him by a priest. But God wasn’t satisfied with the intermittence of this connection. Rather, He was looking to reconcile man with Himself permanently. Jesus Christ, His Son,  stepped up to the plate as the ultimate sacrifice that would remove the need for an external ‘connector’ forever.

Christ couldn’t very well have descended with the aura and glory of his heavenly position as the third person in the Trinity (with God and the Holy Spirit). Instead, he was born, howbeit under paranormal circumstances, as a human child would.  During his years on earth, his godliness could not be hidden as he worked miracles in the lives of the common man. Yet,  he was hated by the Jewish council of scribes, and it was through this hatred that those evil men unwittingly catalysed the implementation of God’s plan of redemption for humanity.

Easter might not be gay, colourful or exciting, yet, it is from its solemnity that the joy of the true believer receives life. That Christ came, suffered and died would not have been enough, but his resurrection on the morning of Easter Sunday is what makes life worth living. So, forget about the fact that you’ll be back at work on Monday morning and remember that without that dull weekend, your life would have no meaning.

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